The Renaissance period was the rise or rebirth of creativity following the "Dark Ages". It has become known as one of the most creative and influential periods in all of history. Paintings went from being flat and without depth to being more realistic and human, similar to the perfection of form seen in the Greek and Roman art periods.


Renaissance art concentrated on precise proportions, realistic perspective, the addition of shading and lighting to truly bring the painting to life. Artwork was commissioned not only by the church, but also aristocrats and nobility as the economy had recovered and more people had the means to secure portraits and art great works to showcase their wealth.

Did you know?

It took Michelangelo four years to paint the Sistine Chapel.  He was paid 3000 ducats, which would amount to approximately $78,000 dollars in today’s terms.

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Below is some basic information on the Renaissance and its characteristics and influences. If you would like to print off a copy of this page along with samples of art from this period, you can download the Renaissance Summary above.


Donatello was one of the greatest Florentine sculptor, before Michelangelo, and was the most influential individual artist of the 15th century in Italy. The Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata, pictured here, is one of his more well known pieces.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa was painted by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, and is described as "the best known and the most visited.” It was created in 1503.


Raphael was from Italy “his work was admired for its clarity of ease of composition.” One of his most famous work was the “School of Athens” created in 1508.


Michelangelo was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art.

Quick Facts:
  • Name means rebirth or revival

  • It was a return to classical art

  • Focus placed on humans in natural settings

Characteristics and/or Types of Art:
  • Introduction of human body

  • More realistic

  • Oil paints were used

  • Warm, sincere, harmonious

  • Increased awareness of nature

  • Age of discovery and exploration

  • Humanism and realism of the human form